How to Add Subtitles & Captions into Videos
Accessibility is a high priority for those in the media and entertainment fields. So, the question isn’t “if” you should add text to your videos. The question should be “how?”
Whether you have experience with captions or subtitles, it’s easier than ever to get started. Learn the steps to creating content everyone can enjoy in this simple guide.
Why you should add text to videos
Before you decide if speech to text services are for you, consider the benefits:
- Accessibility – The deaf or hard of hearing aren’t the only ones who can enjoy film this way. Some speak English as a second language, and others enjoy watching at low volume levels. Adding text ensures those in environments where audio may not be allowed can still watch.
- Marketability – Most media players on social media are designed for use with sound on or off. Advertising and film trailers are good examples of how this is being used. Regardless of the viewer’s selection, you can still get your message across when adding captions and subtitles.
- Compliance – Accessibility laws have evolved. Depending on the country, different rules apply. Theaters, streaming services, and websites may not comply without text.
When you embed (or “burn”) subtitles and captions, you ensure the text hits the action at the exact right time. It also protects your videos from poor third-parting captioning services. Hardcoded subtitles are sometimes required by streaming video providers, as well.
Before you begin: Transcribe your audio
When considering captions or subtitles, the first thing you should do is generate the text. To get an accurate text from your video, you’ll need to create a transcription file. While you can have your internal teams do this, it’s labor-intensive. Most teams outsource this service.
You may choose AI-generated or human-generated text. Unless you want to spend a lot of time editing the text for perfection, human-generated makes the most sense. It’s 99% accurate and will save your video editing team many hours.
To use a service like Rev to create human-generated transcription, upload the complete video file to the checkout page. You may also choose to upload just the audio. (Be sure that the audio is the exact length as the video to match timestamps.)
If the file is large, you can also upload it from an external URL. (Google Drive, YouTube, or other services are examples.) However, ensure the URL is public so that Rev services can access it.
Once the transcription is complete, usually within 12 hours, you save the text as your own .SRT file. Then, you can move on to the next step.
How to add captions to videos
Have you decided to go with captions for your film or commercial? With more and more people using them to understand a film, it makes sense to pursue them. The easiest way to add captions is to allow a third-party service to do it.SRT file you created for transcription.
If you’d instead handle this work on your own, you can. Just upload the video with .SRT file to your choice of video host, such as YouTube or Facebook. Then, go line by line through the video to ensure that the text matches perfectly. Are your captions are for those with hearing impairment? Look for opportunities to add in context cues. These may include what the music sounds like and sound effects.
You may see a few text errors, especially if you chose the human transcription option. Still, this process can take hours for feature-length videos. This leads some production teams to let Rev handle the captions for them.
How to automatically add subtitles to videos
Is your film in English? Do you want it to be available to non-English-speaking audiences? If the thought of getting your film into more homes or theaters makes you excited, you need to consider subtitles. This is where foreign language subtitles can shine.
Fortunately, you do not need to be a language expert to enjoy these benefits. To create subtitles, you’ll use a similar process as captioning. It’s almost identical!
First, you’ll need to ensure that your video’s audio is crisp and clear. It should also be in the English language. Then, decide what language you want it to be translated into. Rev offers services in 15 foreign languages, including the very popular Spanish, Korean, and Chinese. Prices vary by language but range from $3-7 a minute.
Remember, you are getting translation with the text, so it’s an all-in-one service. Just upload the subtitle files as a video or provide a URL like you do when requesting captions. Since this is a human translation service, there is no AI option. You will, however, get your files in 24 hours – day or night!
You can choose among a variety of subtitle file formats to match the requests of top streaming and publishing platforms, including:
A word about burned in video files
It used to take days or even weeks to get your captions or subtitles permanently placed into a video. Video editors needed special skills and a lot of patients to get the job done. Errors weren’t the only possibility. They could completely derail a video project, as the video file is complete and permanent. You’d have to create an entirely new file to change a single word in a burned-in video.
By outsourcing this service to a third party, you relieve some of the post-production stress. It frees your creative teams up to focus on things like color, lighting and rendering. Your marketing teams can spend their time planning ad spend instead of tinkering with Facebook Ads captioning.
For teams of all sizes to have an option where you can upload a file and get a high-quality translation, caption, or subtitle results within 24 hours. Your video can be completed sooner, leading to more lifetime views of the video online.